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Boulder nails down plans for once-jeopardized affordable housing project

Public entity stepped in to salvage tax credit financing

The former Pollard Motors site may yet see some affordable housing options for Boulder residents.
The former Pollard Motors site may yet see some affordable housing options for Boulder residents.

Boulder’s effort to save an affordable housing project once jeopardized by a developer’s bailout took a step toward completion Tuesday.

City council on Tuesday gave initial approval to a deal involving the former Pollard Motors site, now known as the 30Pearl housing project, that will salvage more than $4 million in state and federal tax credit equity, pending a closing by early November.

Following the departure of Denver-based developer Zocalo from the project based on fears it couldn’t get through the city’s permitting process in time to take full advantage of the tax credits, the city housing authority, Boulder Housing Partners, stepped in for the rescue.

The deal, approved on council’s consent agenda, involves a $5.5 million city sale of a southwest portion of the site to Boulder-based developer Morgan Creek Ventures, which plans to build 75 market-rate condos, according to a city memo. Boulder in 2004 bought eight acres from Pollard for just less than $5.5 million.

Boulder Housing Partners will gain the remainder of the site through a conveyance by the city, and will build 80 permanently affordable homes on the site’s northwest section for residents earning between 30% and 60% of the area median income, with 10 units set aside for permanent supportive housing to help keep residents vulnerable to homelessness off the streets.

Boulder Housing Partners will build an underground parking garage below the northeast portion of the site, then transfer that section back to the city, which will sell it to a private developer with plans for 62 market-rate condos.

On the southeast portion of the site, Boulder Housing Partners will build another 40 permanently affordable homes accessible to earners between 30% and 60% of the area median income, with 20 units dedicated as an independent living community for residents with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

The site’s south-central portion will serve as collateral for Boulder Housing Partners to obtain a loan to finance infrastructure improvements for the entire site. It will then be transferred back to the city and sold to a private developer with plans to build 29 home-ownership units, with city expectations to provide affordable ownership opportunities and a preference for a coop or co-housing component.

“The sale of two quadrants on the site to market-rate developers will cover the balance of the development costs,” city staff wrote in a memo to council.

Along with the new housing, the area will hold ground-floor commercial uses, and the city is requiring at least 9,300 square-feet of such space be sold to Morgan Creek to be affordable commercial units, limited to 75% of market rents and annual rent increases of no more than the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

Boulder Housing Partners hopes to break ground later this year, with a goal to complete construction by 2021.

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